My goals in no particular order are:
Get Better at Prolific Creation, Worse at Prolific Consumption
This thought has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a bit too easy to be a prolific consumer these days. Youtube, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Discord, tutorials (yes, learning can be thrown in here if you don’t ever do anything with it) etc. There is a never ending stream of content to consume and I do it all too gladly. I genuinely think it’s a good thing to participate in these communities but it has to be balanced with creating. I’m disappointed with the the ratio of my creativity/consumption at the moment.
If I am envious of anyone in this world, it is the people who are consumed with creating new things. I envy the amazing things they make and their relentlessness in shipping new things. I would place several of my coding role models in this category. I even went on a whole Twitter rant about this the other day. Making things is the fastest way to get better at things. I waste too much time thinking about things I’d like to build (or try building), and not enough time actually building.
I need to practice more discipline in my life. Specifically, I would like to be better at building libraries and tools in 2018, and I would like to release and/or participate a bit more in OSS. I feel rather confident in my ability to build a given UI, thus, focusing on tools and libraries seems like the next evolution in my development as a software engineer.
I don’t want to commit to any specifics just yet (but I should do so soon), but I’d like to ship more in 2018. I think if I can commit to shipping more often, I’ll see my abilities as a programmer increase naturally.
Get Stronger and More Limber
I’m well past the age of giving a shit whether I look good or not and I’ve, more or less, been the same weight for a few years now. Don’t get me wrong, shedding some weight would relieve some stress on my joints as I play sports (every 15lbs is a bowling ball, think about it), but my main concern is that certain muscle groups have become pretty weak and I’ve lost a lot of flexibility. I’ve been riding the coattails of being blessed with athleticism and a childhood full of sports for too long. It’s run its course and it’s time for me to do some real maintenance for my body.
To this end, I’ve already purchased a rowing machine and am putting time in on that every day. I can feel some joints in my hips and legs feeling better already. I need to devote more time to stretching and body weight exercises. If I can commit to that for a while, it might be worth it for me to buy a gym membership and start doing some real strength training.
Get Financially Fit
I don’t come from money or financially literate parents. While I’m not the worst (I do have retirement accounts and a couple savings accounts), I know I could do about 100x better. I’m making really good money, I do have hefty debts (and may take on more as we consider our first mortgage in 2018), but I think I can get to a place in 2018 where I am as confident as one can be about their finances. I want to know that I’m putting money in the right proportions to the right things.
I also just want to be literate enough about our situation so that I can gauge when we can do some of the things we’d like to do. Anna would like to travel and who can blame her, it’s a big, amazing world out there. But, to some degree, we spent a lot of our future discretionary income earning our Masters degrees. It’s not easy to pay a ton of loans, get a home, and internationally travel at the same time. If we can get our finances going in the right direction, it’ll make some of these ideas more tangible.
Related to financial fitness, I want to track the money I spend on some of my vices, namely soda and beer. Before you leave 1000 comments about how they are bad for you, let me say I KNOW. Repeating what I know won’t help me. This might seem outrageous to you, but I probably average 2.5 of these beverages a day, so I’d guess I’ve spent around ~$700 on these two things alone this year, maybe? I’m just guessing, which is why I want some hard facts. You add lattes into this, you’ve got a sizable chunk of money. Cutting that in half will probably make me healthier physically and financially.
Get Out of the Country
So, believe it or not, I have never traveled internationally. Not even to Canada or Mexico. I don’t even have a passport yet.
My family never travelled and I was a two-season athlete in college who never had time to do a semester abroad. Partner that with doing ministry for most of my 20s with a wage around the poverty line and it makes sense why I haven’t had an opportunity to visit other countries before. But as I said in the previous section, I make good money now. I can actually afford my debts and am making progress forward, it would be really nice to go see some other parts of the world while I’m young-ish.
Now, to be honest, travel in and of itself, scares me. Mostly because I fear being bored. I don’t care to just see things, I really prefer to do things or at the least, be with new/interesting people. Good conversations go so far for me, so much more so than a vista or a cityscape. So, I will have to work on finding ways to make travel something interesting for me, but I think it’ll be good for me on a cultural and personal level.
It would be really nice if I could pair some of this travel with some of my other goals.
Get to Speak More
I would really like to keep pursuing speaking at conferences. I really enjoy public speaking (call me crazy) and I love getting to meet new people and help them learn or be inspired. But it’s challenging to get in and get accepted. The amount of people pursuing this goal is increasing. It only makes this harder. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible though, I just have to be more clever about it.
I have to work on a few more talk ideas, take the time to have my abstracts saved in place I can easily copy/paste from, and then actively search for CFPs. I’m kind of bad at all of those things right now. Good at the speaking, bad at the organization. Again, I need more discipline. That will have to change in 2018 to acheive this goal.
Related to this, I plan to continue the Second Career Devs in 2018 and hopefully make it a lot better. I think I can continue to improve the production value and find some amazing stories. I really hope to keep building this community up in 2018 and see what happens from it.
Get Better at Adulting
Along with getting financially fit, I really do need to be better about normal adult things. I haven’t seen a dentist in forever. I don’t have a doctor. I pay for all these insurances and never use them (ironically because I don’t want to pay even MORE money for these things). I am just the worst at figuring this kind of shit out, but this needs to change.
I have three joints I really need a doctor to look at, both my ankles and my right hand.
My ankles are in bad shape from years of sports. For two years, in order to play ultimate (my main sport these days), I’ve needed ankle braces for stability. Stabilizing the ankle comes at a cost. Whenever you stabilize a mobility joint, other parts of your body suffer. My shins and knees have taken a toll as they try and compensate. Specifically, I injured my left one over two years ago. Was told it was a sprain, but it’s never been the same. I fear there might be more damage than I was told and that surgery might be necessary. I’ve been procrastinating about it. My right ankle has been sprained 4 times now. I don’t think it’s a surgical issue, it’s just falling apart.
Recently, my right hand has started to cause me pain. I know how I injured the index finger of my right hand (an ultimate injury) but not the extent of the damage. I dove for a disc and my finger got bent underneath me pretty badly. I think I may have damaged a tendon or ligament in the joint closest to the tip. It only causes me pain when I try and curl up my finger, no pain while typing.
Even more recently, my ring and pinky fingers have also started to cause me joint pain, but on the joint closest to the base of my hand. One part of me just immediately accepts that I’m getting older and my body is crapping out. The other part of me just yells, “Go find a damn doctor, Kyle!” So, yeah, I have to be better about that this year.
Get to Teach More
I’ve really enjoyed streaming on Twitch in 2017 and plan to do so more in 2018. That being said, the stream format is a tough way for others to learn. Many people are asking for me to make screencasts instead.
To that end, I was recently added as an Egghead.io instructor and now have the ability to create and publish courses for the platform. Now I just have to plan out and create a course (that’s not a daunting task at all).
As challenging as this is, I think it’s something I should do. I’m a good teacher and I enjoy it. I also wouldn’t mind some of that side hustle money coming in. Anything I can put towards my financial goals is a win.
Get Back Into Golf
Some of you might know, but I was a collegiate All-American golfer. I really miss competitive golf and haven’t had the money or time to play at all for most of the last decade. While I don’t want to squander too much money towards this endeavor (which is easy to do), there is a city championship I’d like to participate in this year.
The few times I’ve played the last few years, I can tell that I still have a lot of skill (I shot even par from the championship tees during the one round of golf I played this year). It’s not lost, it just needs to be regained. More importantly, I’m in a much better mental space than I ever was when I was younger. I’m able to assess risk a lot better on the course, i.e. play smarter. Since I don’t play often, I play within my abilities which leads to better scores. Lastly, I’m just more forgiving. I’m still hard on myself, but rather than that dial being turned to 11, it’s more like a 7 or 8 now when it comes to golf.
I can acheive this goal by changing my habits a bit. I can get to the golf course and practice before work (I live about 10 minutes from a course) or practice on my lunch breaks when I work from home. I have no illusions, I don’t intend to try and change my life and pursue golf full time or anything crazy like that. This is just about enjoying a passion again. But it’s not out of the question to try and build my game back up and maybe try and qualify for a US Open or US Mid-Am or something like that at some point in my life.
If you boil this all down, it comes down to having a little more discipline. I think that’s about all that stands between me and a slightly better life. Which is great, because it means I have the ability to do it. Also means it’ll be tough to do, since I’m such a stubborn creature of habit. But I will try, that’s for sure.
Check in on me from time to time. Make sure I’m making progress on these things, will you?
I’ll probably reevaluate these things part way through the year.